New York Comic Con Recap

It’s a rare occurrence that I get to see a comic con from an attendee’s perspective. I prefer to exhibit rather than wander the aisles myself, but I do make the effort if there will be people I’m dying to meet there- exhibiting or attending. To get a feel for the crowd, the buzz, the overall success of the convention, I have to rely on the people I chat with at my booth or table. Most usually say “overwhelming” or just “busy!”. That puts it lightly for what I experienced Saturday at New York Comic Con (or, for you twitterers out there, #NYCC). INSANE was more like it. Or CLAUSTROPHOBIC, or even CALL THE FIRE MARSHALL! Now, I heard Friday and Sunday were pretty busy too, but if you asked anyone how Saturday was, your answer will begin with a
bug-eyed stare, a pause to collect oneself, and end with an exhausted sigh.. even if it’s been a week since the show. It was that packed.

Now personally, I am not one for crowds. I hate having to walk in herds, shuffling along, little baby steps at a time.. to the point where I’m not all that surprised there was a pencil-stabbing incident at San Diego Comic Con this past year. I prefer the friendlier, more casual, small-but-devoted conventions like Baltimore. I’m more likely to stop at a table and check out new stuff if it doesn’t take a full hour to get from Point A to Point B. Finding the room of the panel you wanted to see was so hard, it makes you question just HOW MUCH you’d be crushed if you missed it. But, maybe that’s just me.

New York Comic Con is one I’ll never go back to.. as an attendee. If I go back, and I am hoping I do, I will have a table there.. probably split with some buddies, and utilize that many people being right there… with my product to sell! All in all, this trip was about meeting some close fellow webcomic friends, like Tom Racine of Tall Tale Radio, Irma Erikson of Imy, Marc LaPierre of Spooky Doofus, Mike Witmer of Pinkerton, the rest of the guys at 3rd World Studios, and Comics Guru John McCarthy. And in that respect it was a BLAST! I did manage to catch a panel late Saturday- a live drawing and discussion by Joe Kubert, which was informative, funny, and inspiring. The man is so good, he doesn’t even NEED pencils anymore.

Here are some other thoughts and notes on NYCC, from an attendee’s point of view:

  • For anyone planning to attend, I found out that for some bizarre reason booths do NOT come with tables or chairs at this convention. When you pay to exhibit, they basically just give you a little square floor space. A friend of mine even rented a table, and had it stolen the next day! It’s just a tad crazy. However, artist alley exhibitors do get their table and chairs. So, in my opinion… unless you have an easy way to bring a table and chairs, an artist alley table reservation may be more worthwhile. Unless you have the cash to shell out on renting then for whatever insane amount the center charges. Even though artist alley doesn’t have the location and showiness of a booth, it’s the better option for me, next year!
  • It’s always good to have a solid crowd at convention. That’s the reason we creators sign up! But I wonder if too big of a crowd is a bad thing. As I mentioned, I’m the type who stresses out over crowds and will not be feeling like browsing when being pushed and shoved out of the way constantly. I would think others are in that boat. Most people I asked who were exhibiting said business was good (despite my theory), but I have to wonder if a slightly-less packed more casual convention is best for the up-and-coming artists like myself to get a foothold.
  • If you are attending for 1 day, I would suggest traveling the day prior to get settled and recoup, so you have a fresh start the morning of the convention. I wasted 3 hours of the con because I got into NY just after it started, had to find my way around and drop off bags at the hotel, and spent 2 hours wandering and looking for the people I was supposed to meet up with. (Plus, the crowds made it hard to get ANYWHERE fast)
  • …which also leads me to mention- even if you have cell phones: A: it’s LOUD in there, and B: even if you have a good signal, texting and phone calls may not be sent easily with that many people using the network nearby. A prearranged plan or area to meet up at a specified time is the better bet.
  • If you’re like me and swear by your iPhone or smartphone, a battery backup might be something good to invest in if you’re a convention-goer. Something in the air at these things sucks the life out of your battery- that, plus he fact that you’re probably texting, calling, and using mapping apps a lot anyway. By 8pm, my phone was basically dead. Good thing I had a regular camera for photo opportunities.
  • It’s smart to bring some snack bar type munchies.. or alternatives to typical convention fare if you are health-conscious. Lines to get food may be tremendously long, and sometimes, all you want is to get away from the hysteria for 5 minutes and eat an apple or much some trail mix. Would make life easier if you already had that packed in your con swag bag.
  • Finally, wear comfortable shoes, you will be walking your @$$ off.

Now, how about some more pictures from New York! It’s been a long time since I had been there, so I had to take a little walking tour before I jumped on a train back to Philly. Enjoy!

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Posted in Business, Conventions, Helpful Hints and tagged , , , , .

11 Comments

  1. Great recap. I love NY – and I’d definitely love to check out NYCC. Everyone seems to really enjoy the con, since it’s not as overwhelming as SDCC.

  2. Thank you Drezz! I’m glad my claustrophobic issues with large crowds did not sway you, it’s definitely a successful con, one of the biggest on the east coast! If interested in hitting a con, make NYCC one of the top choices on your priority list!

    Just come as “Bubble Boy” if you need personal space, LOL

  3. I don’t mind throwing ‘bows. I guess when you’re in NY, you gotta become a New Yorker. Just plow through people (not with the intent to injure, just to ‘redirect’ them!) and be polite if someone gets annoyed.

    Navigating crowds sucks, but you have to admit – it’s nice to see the attention that comics get from the masses.

  4. you’re right there– as frustrated as I was navigating the aisles, I was also in awe of the amount of passionate, hardcore fans that made it to the con… you get a feeling the “reign of the comic geek” has come!

    It’s quite inspiring and humbling at the same time.

  5. Great recap, Dawn! (Whenever I see pics of me, it just reminds me to start working out. 🙂 The crowds were intense, but no more than SDCC on a Saturday. It’s hard to increase the traffic flow in places where people stop constantly to look or take pictures or text. I read that next year they’re going to take over more of the Javitz Center…apparently some of it was closed off for construction. Here’s hoping that the local hotels and restaurants see this as a great opportunity to work WITH the Con and give discounts and package rates. That was apparently the key to getting the SDCC people to sign on for four more years…the hotels agreed to not gouge the hell out of us.

    Still, despite some growing pains and an appalling lack of free wifi (some big company needs to rectify that next year…I’m looking at YOU, Intel), the Con was a rousing success. I fully expect my friends to get together and make a booth together. Hmmm…if only there was some sort of collection of webcartoonists that could sponsor a booth…one might say an “alliance” of some sort….

  6. ha, I know what you mean about seeing pics of yourself, ugh. Same here, what the frig happened?! heh!

    Good to hear some positive insight on upcoming years for NYCC… I hope those changes are made. That, and giving tables and chairs to booth exhibitors. 2 friends of mine had their rented or purchased tables STOLEN, that’s just terrible, and IMO… only to be expected if a convention doesn’t supply something as obvious as a table!

    “alliance”? where??? ;0) we shall see, it’s a great idea!

  7. Always wanted to go to the NYCC, been to SDCC many times. I think I have to agree with you that for an exhibitor to big of a crowd IS a bad thing. Because you get people who WANT to come to your table but can’t because they simply can’t swim through the people or lose interest.

    Don’t get me wrong it’s a ton of fun, but SDCC the last time I went on a Saturday was like one giant mosh pit. Sometimes I like the little cons more because they tend to be more personal.

    • I’m right there with ya, jhorsley3. Not EMPTY, but casual.. more up my alley. Baltimore Comic Con is a great example. Friendly and geared towards creators, not entertainment/Hollywood.

  8. Thanks so much for this, Dawn! Makes me feel less like I missed something awesome, which I know I did.

    I love you guys! You all look sooo cuuuute!! and obviously were having fun with the con and each other.

    Crowds make me anxious and cranky (more cranky than usual) But I think if I were there with a great group of like-minded people it would be less so.

    To add to the good advice from Drezz: At the Canadian National Exhibition I developed the fine art of ‘elbow wedging’, i.e. using the elbows not to poke or push people, but to hook and pull myself through the crowds. The activity takes the edge off the anxiety, too.

    One of these years I’ll be there with you all, I hope.

  9. There are pros and CONs (excuse the pun) to Artist Alley and the main floor.
    In years past, a lot of cons wouldn’t let you sell books and such in Artist Alley, only art, i.e., originals and prints. So, even a small publisher’s only option was a booth. But that seems to have relaxed a bit. Still, traffic and expectations are different in both areas.

    Also, the space you can claim as yours is bigger with a booth. And the pipe and drape provides you with a backdrop which can be utilized to show your stuff. If you’ve got resources in the area who can bring a table and chairs, you don’t have to ship them from outside the city–maybe even save you on rental. If however, you get a group of creators. An …Alliance, if you will, then you can get a tremendous amount of space out of TWO tables, side-by-side.

    I was speaking with several different groups throughout the weekend and a lot of the talk was—not surprisingly— about selling at a con, specifically NYCC. I’m still cataloging my thoughts and memories, but I’m sure with a little prodding, I’ll spill what I’ve got.
    ;o)

    Oh, BTW, I don’t remember giving the rights to show my likeness in a public forum. When my lawyer calls, be polite. It may save you in the long run.

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